Patients expect to be helped, not harmed, when they take medication, however, that is not always the case. Medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States.
Every person will at some point in their life take medications to prevent or treat illness. However, medicines sometimes cause serious harm or death. Medication errors can be caused by health worker fatigue, overcrowding, staff shortages, poor training and the wrong information being disseminated to patients.
Any one of these errors, or a combination, can affect the prescribing, dispensing, consumption, and prescription error, which can result in severe harm, disability and even death.
Hospital medication errors are almost always preventable with ordinary and reasonable care. Often the medication error is deadly or catastrophic due to an overdose or improper or contraindicated administration of the drug. Often, the lack of consistent care affects the most vulnerable patient population.
For example, older people and those suffering with certain aliments may be at greatest risk for medication errors because they often take multiple prescription medications. In one study by the FDA that evaluated reports of fatal medication errors from 1993 to 1998, almost half of the fatal medication errors occurred in people over the age of 60.
Hospital medication errors contribute to the more general death toll of Medical Errors, which are the third leading cause of death in the United States.
One study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that clinically important medication errors were present among 50 percent of patients after hospital discharge.
The most common types of reported medication errors were inappropriate dosage and infusion rate. Medication mishaps and pharmacy malpractice can occur anywhere in the distribution system, including the following:
Medical malpractice is the area of law that provides legal recourse and compensation for individuals injured by preventable medical errors. Hospital Error Lawyer focused on pharmacy malpractice and medication errors in hospitals improve patient safety by forcing hospitals to recognize the gaps in their system and make changes to prevent others from suffering the same unnecessary complication.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Pharmacist malpractice lawyer who represents plaintiffs in pharmacy malpractice cases to obtain compensation for the economic and human damages caused by preventable medical errors.
Hospital Medication Errors
Medical Malpractice/ Medication Error: Benicar Causes Terminal Birth Defect: Joe Lyon successfully represented a family who lost their newest member at birth. Through extensive litigation, it was proven that the family doctor and obstetrician failed to properly monitor the mother’s medications, and, specifically, the physicians and nurses failed to discontinue Benicar (a hypertensive medication recognized to cause birth defects).
As a direct result of the physicians’ and Hospital negligence, the fetus suffered toxicity, and the baby was born with terminal birth defects following a full term pregnancy. After expert depositions, and two years of litigation, the case was resolved at mediation for a confidential amount.
It takes courage to challenge a health care provider, and The Lyon Firm can help plaintiffs find the answers to the many questions that have gone unanswered. Together we can make a difference in your life and the lives of others by making medicine safer.
Medication Error Deaths
Analyzing medical death rate data over an eight-year period, Johns Hopkins patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. That would make medical errors the third leading cause of death in the United States.
On the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) official list, medical errors would rank only behind heart disease and cancer. The researchers urge the CDC to immediately add medical errors, and medication errors, to its annual statistics on the leading causes of death in the US.
The situation is so dire that the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a recent global initiative to reduce severe medication-associated harm worldwide by 50 percent over the next 5 years.
The Global Patient Safety Challenge aims to address the weaknesses in health systems that lead to medication errors and the severe harm that may result. Most harm arises from systems failures in the way care is organized and coordinated, especially when multiple health providers are involved in a patient’s care.
The WHO initiative calls on countries to take early action to address key factors, including carefully monitoring medicines with a high risk of harm if used improperly, monitoring patients who take multiple medications, and patients going through transitions of care.
The WHO aims to make improvements in each stage of the medication use process including prescribing, dispensing, administering, monitoring and use.
Nursing Home Medication Error
Not long ago, before much litigation targeted nursing homes for certain abuses, many assisted care facilities used heavy medication to easily manage residents. Patients who are heavily sedated and sleep the majority of the day don’t require as much staff time.
The situation has improved, but unfortunately there are still hundreds of cases where nursing home overmedication of residents is still an issue. Elderly patients are often prescribed multiple medications to treat chronic conditions, raising the risk of dangerous drug interactions and serious side effects. Many times drugs are prescribed by different specialists who don’t communicate with each other.
Older adults account for more than 50 percent of hospital visits involving drug-related complications, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Many of these cases involve patients of Ohio nursing homes who are not receiving the care they require.
Many times a patient may be on many medications that cause no issues but they are not always necessary. A study conducted at Veterans Affairs hospitals showed 44 percent of elderly patients were given at least one unnecessary drug at discharge.
If a loved one has been overmedicated by a nursing home, they may show drug-related symptoms that include the following:
- Atypical confusion
- Instability and falling
- Low blood pressure
- Respiratory complications
- Sudden sedation
- Severe and unusual fatigue
- Development of secondary infections
Better Communication: Certain recommendations have been made by multiple medical organizations to alleviate the risk of hospital medication errors. The primary focus is on improving communication between health care providers. While this seems simple, the medical system continues to struggle with consistent and reliable communication and patients continue to be affected adversely.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits: Given the preventable nature, the overwhelming medical and societal cost, and susceptibility of the patient population to hospital medication errors, medical malpractice lawsuits in this area of incredibly important to deter and motivate the health care providers to simply communicate better.
Every other industry is required to have quality control standards that are consistent and designed to improve the quality of the service or product. It is not much to ask that the medical community, who is causing billions of dollars in additional medical costs, develop appropriate mechanisms to avoid these mistakes.
Medication Injury Lawsuits
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives more than 100,000 U.S. reports each year associated with a suspected medication error.
The global cost associated with medication errors has been estimated at US$ 42 billion annually or almost 1 percent of total health expenditure. Aside from the human cost, prescription errors place a huge strain on personal and state health budgets. The vast majority of errors are preventable, and health care systems must be held accountable to make the necessary changes.
Common causes of such errors include poor communication, ambiguities in product names, unclear directions for use, misinterpreted medical abbreviations or writing, poor procedures, and patient misuse because of poor product guidance. Preventing errors clearly saves money and saves lives.